I would recommend this book for its wonderful assortment of drawings, photos, and paintings alone, beginning with the attractive portrait of Frida Kahlo on its cover jacket. Once you read the accompanying text, including a wonderful selection of quotes from Latin American and other writers and commentators, you will be struck by the remarkably compact coverage of a region which is extremely varied.
I believe this has been achieved by a judicious selection of nine key themes, each within a self contained chapter which balances text and graphics in a soothing manner. The first chapter, for example, on the European "discovery" of Latin America, combines pictures of reprinted maps, with a wonderful account of the forces in Renaissance Europe which ultimately propelled explorers to this little known part of the world. The second chapter on conquest includes title pages from indigenous as well as European manuscripts which provide a balance of different perspectives on these historically controversial encounters between civilizations. I will mention just one more chapter - on the arts of this region. Here, we are treated to wonderful pictorials and text on tango, Bossa Nova, and Cuban music.
Obviously, the presentation by the French journalist who wrote this book is eclectic. But, given the complexity of the region, it is effective.
This would not only make a great "coffee table" book or gift, but is also a very pleasant read for a serious reader of Latin American history and society.
Breathtaking color photographs, and well-thought out text, make this a wonderful gift book, as well as a fine introduction to Latin America and a vivid overview of the many cultures represented. The lush full-page photographs and clear text are interspersed with carefully-chosen quotes from Latin American authors, making it one of the most useful books I've seen in English. I can imagine teachers of Latin American studies having this tome on hand for student reference -- it provides truly beautiful and authentic images for understanding the countries of América Latina.